Standing comfortably with good posture should feel natural and energy efficient. However, we are all creatures of habit and a change of posture may initially feel uncomfortable or tiresome as your joints realign, ligaments stretch, and postural muscles start working. If you establish a positive habit of checking in on your posture daily, your body will begin to adapt, and you’ll feel more comfortable and strong in your new healthy posture.
If you sit a lot, consider your seating. Is it comfortable, does it support your lumbar spine, and contribute to keeping your torso upright and shoulders comfortably aligned? Do your feet touch the floor fully and are hips either even with your knee joints, or a little bit higher. These are just a few ideas to sitting more posturally correct. If you are at a desk, are your arms comfortable? Is it possible to set an alarm on your technology device (computer, phone, etc.) to go off every hour? Why? Because when it sounds, you can stop and take 3 mindful breaths; take a simple body scan, make any adjustments to your posture, and even get up and stretch for 10 seconds. None of this takes long, it contributes to re-establishing new patterns, and you will feel better.
Improving standing posture includes many things and needs to consider if you are standing in one place or moving. Here are just a few tips for standing posture:
- Stand tall! All the muscles that make you feel taller are the ones that generally improve your posture
- Hold your head up straight with your chin in. Do not tilt your head forward, backward or sideways
- Keep your earlobes in line with the middle of your shoulders
- Keep your shoulders back, your knees straight and your back straight
- Let arms hang naturally down the sides of the body
- Lightly draw in your core stomach muscles. Do not tilt your pelvis forward
- Avoid locking the knees
- Ensure your feet arches are in a neutral (not flat) position
- Stand with weight evenly distributed, keeping toes relaxed
- Keep feet shoulder-width apart
- If standing for a long period of time, shift weight from one foot to the other, rock from heels to toes, or put one foot up on a small stool
- When using a cellular device, keep it at eye level. This one shift can prevent forward head issues
- Are you clenching your jaw? Remember, your upper and lower teeth should only touch when you are chewing or swallowing
To achieve a longer lasting positive posture requires many things: balance between muscle flexibility and strength; balanced and healthy motion in the joints, and an easy symmetrical stance. In addition, maintaining strong core postural muscles as well as a healthy balance of the muscles on both sides of the spine can bring about ease in standing, sitting and moving.
Doing your Annual Postural Assessment is an excellent health promotional activity that can give you information about your habitual structural patterns, as well as feedback about how current lifestyles affect structure.
Walking, playing, dancing, hanging out with friends is always done with personal postural expression. That expression should only be one of greater ease, grace and joy. Be well and be at ease in your body.